By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
World No.2 Paul Coll had to battle his way past Englishman Patrick Rooney in a high-quality affair to reach the quarter-finals of the Grasshopper Cup in Zurich, winning a three-game contest that dazzled the crowd at Halle 622.
Coll won 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 after Rooney launched a fearless attack against the New Zealander.
World No.21 Rooney demonstrated his full array of shot-making abilities and matched Coll’s renowned physicality in this best-of-three contest.
Despite having played several exhibitions over the last couple of years, this was the first PSA meeting between the pair. It was full of free-flowing entertainment, with both men playing at a very high level in this PSA Gold tournament.
Rooney did well to take the second game and continued to attack in the third, but Coll’s relentless accuracy was the decisive factor.
Coll said: “It was enjoyable – he’s a nice clean player and I’ve played a few exhibitions with him. He has some great skills, so you’ve got to be very careful out there.
“I let the second slip, which is annoying, but he’s a very good and very fair player. I’m a big fan of how he plays the game. It’s good squash and a good battle, so it’s always enjoyable.
“I know what he’s capable of, you can see players play very well in exhibitions and it’s a case of converting that to the biggest stage. If he can put that into a professional match then he’s going to be ever better. I’m happy with the start and the whole match, just closing out the second would have been nice.”
Coll will now face Egypt’s Fares Dessouky in the quarter finals, after the World No.10 overcame compatriot Omar Mosaad in a feisty encounter.
Dessouky triumphed 11-8, 15-13, but the main talking point was a controversial incident that delayed play towards the end of the second game.
After losing a tight opening game, Mosaad fought back and earned a game ball at 12-11 and then picked up a clear double bounce. Dessouky appealed but a previous pick-up was checked instead by the video referee and called ‘Good’.
The pick-up that Dessouky was talking about was not checked but did appear on the screens inside the venue. He saw this and after seeing that the ball was a double bounce, he refused to return to court unless he got his point back.
After more than 20 minutes off court, Desouky accepted a let and then managed to close out the game 15-13 to reach tonight’s quarter-finals, where he will face Coll.
World No.5 Mostafa Asal returned to action after his disqualification in the U.S. Open by beating Frenchman Gregoire Marche in the final match of the evening.
The only negative of the night for Asal came in the second game when he was given a conduct stroke against him for blocking, but he kept his head to complete an 11-7, 11-5 win.
Afterwards, it was playing on his mind as he said: “How many conduct strokes will they give you in one match? Today there was no need for a conduct stroke. Every time it helps the other player. I need the conduct strokes!
“It’s very difficult to play like this, and I hope the referees study the conduct strokes.
“This is my first time here, but since I was a kid I wanted to play this tournament. It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Asal, 21, dominated long periods of the match and his quarter-final clash with world No.6 Tarek Momen is sure to be a feisty affair if it matches their previous battles.
Former world champion Momen confidently overcame Swiss No.2 Dimitri Steinmann 11-7, 11-4 as the
Momen was relishing the medium paced squash and seemed to have all the time in the world to pick off loose balls and fire the ball into the front two corners. Not even the speed of Steinmann was enough to counter the precision of the Egyptian, who took the first game 11-7.
Steinmann recovered well from a poor start in the second game as he won four points in a row to get back to 4-5 and put some pressure on Momen. The Swiss player would not win another point in the game however as Momen, helped by Steinmann errors, moved from strength to strength to close out the match in two games. The World No.6 had this to say after his win:
“Ever since I started playing here I always thought I don’t want to get Nicci [Mueller] in the draw and now there are two Swiss players so the chances are even higher. It’s always tough playing against the home boy, who will get the full support from the crowd.
“In a best-of-three, it’s quite tricky so I really needed to be sharp from the beginning. I didn’t want it to get too close because everything would favour my opponent so I wanted to get a good lead in each game and thankfully I managed to do that.
“I had to study my opponent. I spoke to my coach, Omar Abdel Aziz, about a plan and I always had a backup plan in my mind if I needed to, but I just wanted to go with plan A first and execute it well and thankfully I didn’t have to go with any backups.
“All credit to Dimitri, in the middle of each game he pushed hard and he came back from 5-0 down in the second game and I thought I had to play really well today to win.”
PSA Gold Grasshopper Cup, Halle 622, Zurich, Switzerland.
Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 2-0: 11-7, 11-5 (34m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [WC] Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 2-0: 11-7, 11-4 (26m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 15-13 (72m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 2-1: 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 (44m)
Men’s Quarter Finals (Friday, October 21):
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v  Diego Elias (PER)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour